A weekly rundown of the latest efforts of lawmakers to scrutinize the actions of the executive branch.

A weekly rundown of the latest efforts of lawmakers to scrutinize the actions of the executive branch.

•House Education and Labor Committee

(2/12/07) — Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) is curious to learn why $18 million of stock in Sallie Mae, one of the country’s largest student-loan providers, went on sale shortly before President Bush proposed significant cuts this fiscal year in federal student loans.

“Given the timing between the stock sale and the public announcement of lender cuts, we seek additional information about these events,” Miller wrote in a letter addressed to the Department of Education, Sallie Mae and the White House.

Miller requested to see any communication between these three entities that could help shine light on the matter.

•Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

(2/9/07) — Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), who chairs the panel, is taking issue with chemical regulations proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to the senator, the DHS regulations do not encourage chemical facilities to use less-dangerous materials.

“It is common sense that if a facility owner can replace a deadly chemical with a safer chemical that would not kill tens of thousands of people, then at the very least DHS should be able to discuss such a consequence-reducing measure with the owner of the facility,” Lieberman wrote in a letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Lieberman added the regulations preempt state and local laws pertaining to chemical-plant security. He said DHS “should remain silent on preemption, as Congress did and as it intended the Department to do.”

•House Ways and Means Committee

(2/9/07) — Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is pressing Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to place economic pressure on Japan at the upcoming G-7 Summit. Rangel said Japan’s currency exchange rate is increasing trade deficits with the United States and Europe.

“We urge you to press the Japanese government to reverse their weak yen policy through concrete action,” Rangel wrote in a letter to Paulson. “The Japanese government should be selling the massive reserves it has accumulated thereby changing the imbalances with the dollar and the Euro.”

- Aman Ali